A WOMAN TRAPPED IN A MAN’S BODY? Fr David Watt
Much as I would like to write on something completely new, before I do, I must try to tackle one more component of the whole “transgender” confusion.
It is that indicated by the title; the notion that, for example, the “real” me could be a woman, even while I concede that my body is male.
The irony is that, in our materialistic age, by now most of those making such a claim would probably not believe there is any element of their identity other than the body! And if there is nothing to me other than my body, it is obviously absurd to claim that the “real” me could be female despite my body being male.
But what of those who admit the existence of the soul but claim theirs is female even though their body is male?
The difficulty here is to see what kind of evidence, if any, could possibly be brought to bear in support of such a claim. For while it is true that there are differences between men and women, not merely on a physical level, but also with regard to the psyche, these latter divergencies are of a general nature, which do not necessarily translate into anything observable regarding an individual instance.
For example, there are confident, aggressive women who do not at all feel that their “inner self” is really male; likewise there are nurturing, “maternal” men. An example of this latter would be the nursing profession, which, despite the substantial preponderance of females, does include some men who are contented in their chosen line of trade, and without feeling that they are “really” women.
Another problem is that if we allow individual feelings to be determining of sexuality, why not of other matters; for instance of adulthood? Why not say that one becomes an adult – and hence able to marry, vote, drink etc. – as soon as one feels adult? Particularly given that prescinding from the question of bodily development – just as “transgender” people prescind from the evidence provided by their bodily development! – there are, indisputably, some 10-year-olds who are far more mature than some 18 or 21-year-olds.
Regarding these matters, Catholics are very blessed in possessing a definition – thus infallible – of Pope Clement V (Ecumenical Council of Vienne; D481 = DS 902), that the soul is the form of the human body. Dovetailing soul and body in this way (so different from the notion of the soul as a “ghost in the machine”, attributed to Descartes – with what degree of accuracy is beyond our present scope), means that, since, at the level of nature, male and female are in a certain sense opposites, it is not possible for the “real” me to be female while my body is male.